From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : Climate change - land degradation
Brazil’s Amazon forests are ablaze with dozens of fires mostly set intentionally by loggers and others seeking greater access to forest land. They are paving the way for a global climate catastrophe.
- Energy and transport are mainly responsible for the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.
- Changes in land use patterns also have made significant contributions.
- Deforestation, industrial agricultural systems and desertification are major drivers of climate change.
- Agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for a little less than a quarter (23%) of the total net anthropogenic emissions of GHGs between 2007-2016.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently brought out a special report on Climate Change and Land that covers desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. It makes it clear that unless land is managed in a sustainable manner, the chances for humanity to survive climate change will become smaller.
Examples of Climate Change
- Many cities in Europe and elsewhere have seen high temperatures never before experienced.
- Heat waves have also accelerated melting of glaciers in Greenland at a rate that was not anticipated by scientific models until much later this century.
- The burning of the world’s largest forest reserves as witnessed in Amazon recently.
Problems in tackling climate change action
- The USA has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement stating that it is against the national interests of the U.S.
Importance of Land Management
- Land is part and parcel of people’s lives. It provides food, water, livelihoods, biodiversity and a range of other benefits from its ecosystems.
- Decades of poor land management in the agricultural system destroyed farm systems
- soils have become depleted with heavy use of chemicals
- farms have few or no friendly insects
- monoculture has led to a reduction in the use of indigenous crop varieties with useful characteristics
- groundwater is depleted
- polluted farm runoff is contributing to contaminated water bodies while destroying biodiversity
Efficient land management
- Implementing more sustainable agricultural practices:
- reducing chemical input drastically
- food production through natural methods of agroecology to reduce emissions and enhance resilience to warming
- avoiding conversion of grassland to cropland
- bringing equitable management of water in agriculture
- crop diversification
- investment in local and indigenous seed varieties that can withstand higher temperatures
- practices that increase soil carbon and reduce salinisation
- Sustainable food systems reduce food waste, which is estimated to be a quarter of the food produced.
- It also necessitates eating locally grown food and cutting meat consumption.
- It is important to put an end to deforestation, conserve mangroves, peatland, and other wetlands.
Examples of change
To address the transnational challenges of climate change and land, the narrow lens of nationalism is not serving us. La Via Campesina, The Transition Network, and Ecoregionalism are civil society movements in that direction. Fridays for Future and Fossil Fuel Divestment are part of such evolving sensibilities.
Land use policy should incorporate better access to markets for small and marginal farmers, empower women farmers, expand agricultural services and strengthen land tenure systems.
In the Great Transition Initiative, Paul Raskin has said that seeing our place as part of the web of life, instead of at its center, requires a Copernican shift in world views.